PhD student

The Center for Molecular Medicine Cologne (CMMC) is a multidisciplinary center at the University of Cologne providing a forum that brings together physician scientists with basic researchers from the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences to perform competitive basic, disease-oriented research. The mission of the CMMC is to advance the understanding of the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms as a prelude to improving prevention, diagnosis and treatment of many common health problems. For further information, please visit
The CMMC invites applications from enthusiastic, motivated individuals for the Junior Research Group (JRG XI) “Structure and Biochemistry of Epigenetic Regulators” of Dr. Simon Poepsel for:
One PhD Student (65% TV-L)

Activities and responsibilities

We are interested in the enzymatic basis of epigenetic gene regulation. The main focus of our work are multi-subunit histone methyltransferase (HMTase) complexes. Through their highly targeted activities, these intriguing assemblies establish gene expression patterns to instruct cellular differentiation and development. HMTases have to be located correctly within the genome and their catalytic activities adjusted for optimal specificity in time and space.

We are using state-of-the-art cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) to uncover the molecular structure and regulatory mechanisms of human HMTase complexes. By understanding the roles and interplay of subunits within the complexes and with chromatin (e.g. DNA and chromatin modifications), we will enhance our knowledge of mechanisms of epigenetic decision making. We are working with recombinant, heterologous expression systems (E. coli, insect cells) and use endogenous sources (tissue culture) to obtain native, functional assemblies. Our studies involve the isolation of protein complexes, the elucidation of their three-dimensional structure by single-particle cryo-EM, as well as biochemical and cellular activity assays.

Please visit to learn more about the group’s interests and ongoing research.

Qualification profile

Minimum qualifications:
  • M.Sc. or equivalent degree in biochemistry, biophysics or a related field, completed with above-average grades
  • Experience and publication record in biochemistry
  • Thorough conceptual understanding of structure function relationship
  • Enthusiasm for molecular structure and function as the basis of life processes
  • High level of motivation, endurance and positivity
  • Ability and willingness to work in a collaborative team
  • Appreciation of thorough and dependable experimentation
  • Excellent communication in English (written and speech)
Desired qualifications:
  • Hands-on experience and publication record in structural biology (preferably cryo-EM)
  • Experience in model building and interpretation of structural data and validation metrics


CMMC along with its partner institutes such as the Cologne Cluster of Excellence in Cellular Stress Responses in Aging-associated Diseases, Cologne Center for Genomics and Max-Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing research all located in a same campus provides a vibrant scientific community. Therefore, the CMMC´s JRG iX in “Structure and Biochemistry of epigenetic regulators” is placed perfectly at an environment where the basic research meets its cutting edge of translational science.

Your salary will be based on TV-L.

Applications from female candidates are expressly welcome and will be given priority in the event of equal suitability, competence and professional performance.

People with disabilities are welcome to apply and will be treated preferentially in the event of equal suitability and qualification.

While applying for the job please refer to jobvector and use the following reference number: V000001186

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